Antonio’s legacy continues through his name and brand
Antonio’s legacy continues through his name and brand

Top chef stabs himself with kitchen knife

By Amol Rajan
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:50

Antonio Carluccio, the Italian chef famous for his restaurant chain and television appearances, has been taken to hospital after an incident in which he is said to have stabbed himself in the chest with a kitchen knife.

An ambulance was called to the chef's home in Battersea, south London, on Monday night and Carluccio, 71, was taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. He has since been discharged and allowed to go home.

It remains unclear exactly how the stabbing occurred and whether or not it was an accident. Asked if it had been a suicide attempt, a spokeswoman for Carluccio said: "We don't know at the moment. He has been in hospital but any health issue is a private matter so we cannot offer any further comment. We do not have any further details."

There had been fears when Carluccio was admitted to hospital on Monday night that he may have punctured a lung. He was transferred to a general ward before being discharged on Thursday. A source told The Sun: "No one knows exactly how it happened. It was initially a cause for great concern but he seems to have made a remarkable recovery."

Carluccio, the son of a station master, was born in Vietri sul Mare in the southern Italian province of Salerno in 1937. He grew up in Piedmont and lived in Vienna and Hamburg before moving to Britain in 1975 to start up his own company, importing Italian wine.

In 1981 he became the hugely popular manager of Terence Conran's Neal Street Restaurant. He eventually took ownership of the restaurant in 1989 – by which time he had married Conran's younger sister Priscilla – and continued as its owner until it closed in 2006.

Awarded an OBE last year, his rustic style of cooking heavily influenced the young Jamie Oliver, who began his professional career working under Carluccio at the Neal Street Restaurant. His wife opened up the first Carluccio's food shop and deli next to the restaurant in 1991, soon followed by a wholesale arm selling a range of Carluccio-branded regional foods from Italy. This idea was soon expanded into a chain of restaurants with adjacent delicatessens.

The author of several books on Italian cooking, in 1996 the chef appeared in his own television series, Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feasts.

His outlets have been one of the fastest-expanding high street eateries of recent times. With menus modelled on seasonal, well-sourced produce, last year the company's turnover increased by 18 per cent to £54m, with pre-tax profit up 66 per cent to £5.3m.

The group exceeded its openings target for last year with six rather than five new restaurants, and has opened three outlets this year. Its portfolio now stands at 38, with two sites secured for next year.

A fortnight ago he seemed his ebullient self when reviewing newspapers on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

In July, he spoke movingly about learning to cook at his mother's knee when he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.

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